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Fire diary from a startled artist

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Dear Editor:

(Editor’s note: This statement was written the day the Lake Christine fire turned very threatening to the communities of Basalt and El Jebel.)

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The Fire is a (expletive) beast. Just huge and totally out of control. Watched it yesterday move away from Basalt and toward the El Jebel area. Figured no problem for us, the wind was out of the north east and moved the smoke and flames away from Sopris Drive and my groovy little neighborhood.

Hundreds and hundreds of chopper water-drops out of lake Christine and airplane drops of that red retardant. Seemed to keep it all reasonable.

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The night sky was aglow all night… a sick orange and brown mix of smoke and ash. Got up this a.m., tea on the deck, blue skies and a sleepy dog. A slight change in the breeze from the northwest. That got my attention and everyone’s in the hood. Then the smell of smoke! Now everyone is in the street looking at the smoke clouds coming our way. Chat, chat, chat and “what could possibly happen?” More smoke and ash.

Went up to the high school to get a good look at the situation.

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Now the blaze is eating the wind and moving back toward town. A bit over the first ridge, so, still not so freaked out. By the way, through all of this the July 4 crowd is getting a (expletive) fireworks display to never forget. All over town, clogging traffic, craning necks taking selfies and jamming the whole works up.

When it passes the original point of the fire I head home.

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All through this, choppers, crop dusters and a big jet tanker are unloading nonstop. An air controller’s nightmare. And don’t forget the power lines and power station that have been gettin fried and exploding. Holy crap!

Back at the house and here comes the gendarme… MANDATORY EVACUATION. Fire is less than an hour away!!

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Neighbors in various speeds of loading jeeps, land cruisers, SUVs etc., etc., and bailing out.

I threw all kinds of (expletive) in every bag at hand. Dog gear, her food and blanket and toys, Cameras, iPads ,phone, laptop, binoculars, Armani suit ( a wedding coming, OK?!) Some clothes, knee brace, meds and bathroom stuff, all my guitars, a bottle of Rose and two bottles of My Chateauneuf de Pape and I don’t know what all is in my car, all balled up in a pile.

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I do know this: I didn’t take one piece of art. Not one.

Where are my (expletive) priorities, you ask? I don’t know, right now.

I did video the entire house this morning though, so I can have an informed hassle with some (expletive) insurance adjuster telling me that ceramic racoon is worthless. Might be right about that, but not to me.

That brings me to driving out of the hood, cops and fire dudes everywhere, and very nice to boot (sure, their houses weren’t about to get toasted.)  

I’m in my studio with June.

I took several hundred photos over the last 24 hours.

I am fine, if a bit discombobulated. I will be OK and I don’t think the hood is going to go down, barring some dramatic change in the wind. Could happen, but the fire is one ridge over from Sopris Drive.

It was in total blaze mode and tankers were dropping retardant a quarter of a mile from my porch! Then I chickened out.

Smells like smoke everywhere. No ash in town. Just stupid (expletive) tourists.

Thanks for your very kind offers to come stay etc etc. Maybe I’ll show up at everyone’s house for dinner over the next few week in the form of rain check.Im too shaken to cook!

Oh yeah this bastard is going to burn all the way to Ruedi unless it rains. It is 0 percent contained.

Such an interesting day. I guess fireworks are out of the question. Who can compete with tracers rounds?

Dick Carter

Basalt

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